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Escalation of Jordanian Military Action in Jordan, Beisan Valleys Puzzles Israel

May 31, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jordan and Beisan Valleys echoed with gun-fire this morning for the third successive day as Israeli authorities pondered the reasons for the sudden escalation of attacks by Jordanians encamped on the East Bank of the river. A military spokesman reported that one soldier was injured in a mine incident on the Golan Heights near the Jordanian border yesterday. On Tuesday night, an El Fatah gang crossed the Yarmuk River into Israel and planted anti-personnel mines in the vineyards near Tel Katzir. One settler was seriously injured and another suffered slight injuries when they detonated the mines yesterday morning.

Israeli authorities believe that the Amman Government has lost control of its Army commanders along the Israel-Jordan demarcation line. The local commanders apparently have an agreement with the El Fatah to coordinate their attacks on Israel with El Fatah movements, it was said here.

The Jordanians opened fire in the Manshieh area in the northern Jordan Valley shortly before eight o’clock local time this morning, aiming at workers in the fields of Kibbutz Maoz Chaim. Israeli return fire silenced the Jordanian guns. No casualties were reported.

Jordanians opened fire yesterday at Shaar Hagolah, also in the Jordan Valley. That shooting followed an all-night artillery duel in which Israeli settlements in the Beisan and Jordan Valleys were hit. The Jordanians used 105-millimeter field pieces from positions opposite Gesher. These were blasted by Israeli return fire which also scored direct hits on the Jordanian Army post at Adasiyeh police station.

The Jordanians started shooting at eight o’clock Tuesday evening in coordination with El Fatah units. One settler was wounded at Massada and extensive damage was reported at Gesher, Shaar Hagolan and Ashdod Yaacov. A children’s home was hit, cowsheds and other buildings were damaged and electric lines were destroyed. A military spokesman reported that Israeli return fire inflicted heavy damage on Jordanian positions.

The puzzlement over the renewed Jordanian attacks stemmed from recent signs that the Jordan Valley region was going to have a period of quiet. A week ago, Jordanian villagers returned to their homes in Shuneh which had been evacuated by the El Fatah and resumed the cultivation of their fields. The village even showed lights at night for the first time in months.

(The London Daily Telegraph said in a dispatch from Amman, the Jordanian capital, that Arabs arriving there from the Israeli-held West Bank reported an Israeli military build-up. The travellers were quoted as saying that the Israelis were massing troops, tanks and artillery for attacks on Jordanian villages.)

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